Risk-averse investors flee Nigeria Stock Exchange over 2019 political uncertainty

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Risk aversion prompting some investors to sell: SCM Capital

Investors see currency, country risks, exchange CEO says

Nigerian stocks, world-beaters in January, have given up their gains for 2018 as risk-averse investors move their money elsewhere.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index dropped 1.3 percent by close of trade in Lagos Thursday, leaving the benchmark 0.4 percent lower for the year. The gauge has slumped 15.5 percent from its mid-January peak.

Dangote Cement, Nigeria’s biggest listed company, fell 1 percent, Stanbic IBTC was down 3 percent and Access Bank declined 4.6 percent.

“Risk aversion and apathy from portfolio investors is taking its toll on the Nigerian market,” Sewa Wusu, an analyst at SCM Capital in Lagos, said by phone. “Increasing yields in treasury bonds in advanced economies, particularly in the U.S., may have also shifted focus from the Nigerian market.”

Nigerian equities advanced earlier this year as increased prices for oil, the nation’s biggest export, boosted optimism among investors and reduced foreign-exchange shortages. Net purchases of stocks by foreigners seeking higher yielding emerging-market assets jumped 13-fold in January from a year earlier, but have since slowed, dropping 9 percent in April, figures from the NSE show.

“The two risks investors are concerned about now is currency and country risks,” Oscar Onyema, chief executive officer of the NSE, told reporters in Lagos Thursday. “You would probably see activity in the market when there is a catalyst for it, otherwise people would want to wait and see from a political perspective before going on with their large investment plans. That is the feedback they are giving us.”

(Updates with companies whose shares declined in penultimate paragraph.)

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